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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

E-Commerce Lessons from Small Business Owners


Cyber Monday is about to arrive, and with it, retailers and businesses that sell online will be putting their e-commerce technology to the test.

BusinessNewsDaily asked small business owners to tell us what their biggest e-commerce mistake has been. Here’s what they had to say:

Our biggest mistake: doing very little research up front on shopping carts or e-commerce in general. We could have saved frustration, site iterations and money by spending more time researching the e-commerce landscape up front and not diving right in.
-- Brett Brohl, scrubadoo.com

[My] biggest e-commerce mistake [was] not offering PayPal right away to customers. Approximately 30 percent of all online sale transactions are with PayPal.
-- Jim Bahcall, papershower.com

The most important feature is having a cart that you can work with. For me, I need a cart that allows me to alter any piece of code I want (so I can) create the functionality that I need. It can be a big drain if you need to hire someone every time you want to make a small change to your website .
-- Kevin Canning, PearlsOfJoy.com

[The most important feature in a shopping cart is] being able to capture [customers’] email for your database. Whether they end up purchasing or not you can continue to communicate with them and drive referred business even if they never did end up buying.
-- Sue Ennis, lamabra.com

The biggest mistake we have made is having too many of very similar products for customers to choose from. We have found that too many choices lead to no choice.  
-- Marc Joseph, dollardays.com

Make sure you get someone to actually test and use your site and e-cart. No
matter how much it makes sense to you that the site is "logical" and
"user-friendly" -- it doesn't matter if someone else finds it complicated and tough to navigate.
-- Jimmy Tomczak, paper-feet.com

The most important element of a shopping cart (other than a big, fat "proceed to checkout" button, of course) --active areas to up sell. In our shopping cart drop down, we have callouts for free shipping as well as for reward points earned. These two callouts are actively pushing people to buy more so that they will be rewarded.
-- Phil Edelstein, twoleavesandabud.com

It's got to be easy for the consumer. The product copy should clearly and directly communicate the product features and benefits — what makes it fun.
-- Ann Schwartz, tinylove.com

The advice I would give to someone starting an e-commerce site would be to understand the behavior of shoppers on the web. I would also recommend that they sell something that can't easily be purchased at Amazon, or another competitor, and they find ways to add value to what they sell.
-- Joan McCoy, littleonebooks.com

[The most important feature in a shopping cart is] a shipping calculator. It will save you lots of phone calls and emails asking about shipping rates and the customer will appreciate that there are no surprises during checkout.
-- Blair Rhodes, thepashminastore.com

If I had to do it all over again, I would get the branding and the shop just how I wanted it so not to spend money on doing things over. Know the features you need and search for the shopping cart that will fit your needs.
-- Hilary Chandler, kidecals.com

Don't require your customers to create an account before checking out; every additional step you require will drive cart abandonment higher.
-- Stephen Antisdel, netnitrox.com

[My] biggest mistake was designing the site first and the cart last. The site was beautiful but the cart was not. I would start with a merchant cart software first next time and build the site around that, rather than the other way around.
-- Sarah M. Kauss, swellbottle.com

[My] biggest mistake is that due to time zones, [I] needed a 24/7 live support help desk. That was our biggest mistake — not having that live, real-time interactivity.
-- Mitch Goldstone, scanmyphotos.com

Have automated emails sent to customers/almost customers. We have an email that goes out a day after someone abandons a cart (provided they got far enough into the checkout process to enter their email address), addressed from our customer service manager, asking if they had any problems with the checkout, if they have any questions about our products, etc. We get a fair number of replies to these emails, and it can help save a sale and/or provide a personal touch-point with more information about why a customer didn't purchase.
--Stephanie Pakrul, fusiondrupalthemes.com